Through the MEM Case Study series, we take a look at how our participants have applied the concepts learnt in our sessions.
In order to manage work in the pandemic stricken world, employees from various organizations started working-from-home. As work-from-home was introduced, organizations started realizing the importance of trust within teams. Direct access to supervising employees was not possible when working from home. So, you need to believe that your employees are diligently working on the other side of the screen to deliver their best performances.
However, Medha’s colleagues were finding it difficult to trust one of their teammates. They weren’t really sure whether this teammate was working on the other side of the screen or if she was busy doing something else. Medha’s colleagues started assessing the team member during team meetings and came to the conclusion that she only joined virtual meetings for namesake while doing something entirely different on the other side. The colleagues were often found complaining about this team member and her performance. This contaminated Medha’s thoughts towards her colleague, establishing a negative reputation of her in Medha’s mind.
She started setting lower expectations from this particular teammate. Medha started thinking that she was an inattentive employee and it wasn’t important to call her to meetings. All of these thoughts were built in Medha’s mind despite the fact that she had herself never sat for a Zoom meeting with her colleague.
Something had to change. And it had to start with Medha. Utilizing the concepts Medha had learned from the 10 hour course on Emotional Intelligence Mindset, she began reflecting on her thoughts. Harnessing the power of emotional awareness, she discovered that instead of considering the colleague’s slip-up during the meeting to be the problem, the colleague herself was being considered the ‘problem’.
Medha realized she’d been operating from an Inward Mindset. Influenced by her colleagues’ opinion, she started seeing this person as an obstacle who makes life difficult for others. Making a shift, she attempted to see her colleague more straightforwardly- without her own biases. Perhaps there was something going on in the colleague’s life which might have been making it difficult for her to participate in the meetings as per expectations.
With time, when the other staff members who were insistent on blaming the colleague themselves quit the organization, Medha decided to give this person a benefit of doubt. Once she started to look at this colleague straightforwardly as a human, Medha realized that she was not as undedicated or as inattentive as described earlier by her team members. It seemed to Medha that they saw her as an obstacle due to their own personal clashes. This shift made it easier for Medha to work together with her colleague. Not just that, but without the need for blame and justifications that come with an inward mindset, Medha felt a lot more at ease at work.
This incident is a profound revelation of how our mindset drives our behavior. Our journey towards being more emotionally intelligent begins with having an outward mindset – a mindset where we see other people as people with their own needs, hopes and concerns.
As we try to build trust within our teams, what matters the most is that we ask our team members what their needs, objectives and challenges are. Even when people around us have slip-ups, instead of blaming them for the slip-up, seeing them as people and trying to understand their context can build trust and accountability in our relationships.
At any moment, we can either blame or we can help. We can’t do both. Whether we blame or help (our behaviors) are shaped by which mindset we are operating from. Do we see a person with needs, objectives and challenges or do we see an object who doesn’t matter as much as we do?
It can be tempting to focus only on behavior change when we want to change our results. Correcting others or adjusting our behaviors can seem like the natural solution. But the fact remains that our mindset has a lasting impact on whether we invite understanding and cooperation from others or we further alienate the people we live and work with. We hold equal if not more responsibility to improve the health of any of our interpersonal relationships. All our past behaviors and experiences in relationships were directly or indirectly influenced by our mindset and so will all our future experiences be. It is now our decision – whether we want an inward or an outward mindset to guide our future experiences.
Question for Reflection:
The next time someone shares something negative about a third person, what can you do to ensure that you're operating from an Outward Mindset?